By Ted Keith
August 06, 2009
MLB Power Rankings
21 New York Mets
Last Week: 20
The Mets may just want to sit the rest of the year out now that they can't even do simple tasks like walking down stairs or running 90 feet without injuring themselves. During a two-game set with the Cardinals this week, Luis Castillo sprained his ankle slipping down the clubhouse steps on Tuesday, and on Wednesday pitcher Jon Niese hurt his hamstring covering first base and Gary Sheffield tweaked his hamstring rounding first base. Oh, and Jose Reyes may not be back at all this year, which means neither will the Mets.
22 Arizona Diamondbacks
Last Week: 26
A nice stretch of four straight wins can't obscure the tough offseason question facing the Diamondbacks. What to do about Brandon Webb and his $8.5 million club option? Webb had surgery this week to try and clean out his shoulder, and will miss the rest of the season. But he should be able to start throwing again in a few months, which might give the Diamondbacks time to decide whether or not to pick up that option. Depending on how he progresses, it seems like bringing him back makes sense, because it would give them a chance to trade him next year and get prospects who are closer to the majors now than anyone they would get in a compensatory pick.
23 Oakland Athletics
Last Week: 23
Rajai Davis has been playing well, batting almost .400 since July 1 and winning one game this week with a ninth-inning triple. He's been as exciting a player as Oakland has had in some time. Not quite Rickey Henderson-level exciting, of course. For one thing, Henderson is a Hall of Famer. For another, he says things like, "I would like to share a little Rickey-ism. Rickey have tears in his eyes. Rickey have love in his heart for you. Rickey is so very, very humbled" during a day in his honor last week. Match that, Rajai.
24 Baltimore Orioles
Last Week: 24
Only one team in the modern era has had five pitchers win their big-league debut in one season. That team? The 2009 Baltimore Orioles. To a list that already included Koji Uehara, Brad Bergesen, Jason Berken and David Hernandez, add Brian Matusz, the 22-year-old lefty and former No. 4 overall pick in the 2008 draft. It's not exactly Palmer, Cuellar, Dobson and McNally, but in an otherwise lost season, it will do (sick unis, fellas).
25 Cleveland Indians
Last Week: 25
The real shame of the Victor Martinez trade was not that they had to deal a 30-year-old switch-hitting All-Star who has an affordable club option for next year, or that they didn't get the best hitting or pitching prospect back from the team they traded him to. It's that they made the move one day before Victor Martinez Bobblehead Day at Progressive Field. Not surprisingly, eBay is now littered with people trying to sell theirs to the highest bidder. Just don't ask for a Lars Anderson or Clay Buchholz bobblehead in exchange and I'm sure you'll be able to make a deal.
26 Cincinnati Reds
Last Week: 22
Before beating the Cubs on Wednesday, the Reds had lost eight in a row, 14 of 15 and are still just 3-17 since the All-Star break -- the worst record in baseball. But none of that is as bad as losing erstwhile ace Edinson Volquez for not only the rest of this year but most of next season as well to Tommy John surgery. Reds fans looking to assign blame can point to any of the following: the World Baseball Classic, the Dominican Winter League, manager Dusty Baker, Volquez himself, simple bad luck, the moon and the tides, or perhaps bad bobblehead voodoo.
27 Pittsburgh Pirates
Last Week: 27
You know things are bad when a pitcher for the Nationals, whom you traded, calls you "the laughingstock of baseball" and then goes out and beats you in his first game back. But that's what Sean Burnett did last week after saying, among other things, "What's going to bring people to the ballpark now?" Apparently, the recent trades didn't have much to do with it. Before dealing Jack Wilson and Freddy Sanchez in late July, the Pirates were averaging just over 18,200 fans per game. In five games since, they've averaged just more than 19,000. It's almost as if the fans in Pittsburgh knew they might trade their only decent players and have no shot at contending. What would have given them that idea?
28 San Diego Padres
Last Week: 29
It's amazing, and sad, to see how far Mark Prior has fallen. Once the second overall pick in the draft, then the ace of a team that seemed bound for the World Series in 2003, Prior has since plummeted to earth and kept on dropping, due mostly to arm injuries that many people once said he would never experience because of what seemed a perfect pitching motion. Turns out, his motion was terrible, and he's not pitched a game in the majors or minors since 2006, has had two surgeries since 2007 and was released by the Padres this week because even the worst team in the National League doesn't think he can help their big league club. Considering the state of their rotation since Chris Young and Jake Peavy were hurt, that is saying something.
29 Kansas City Royals
Last Week: 28
Since starting the year 18-11, the Royals have the worst record in baseball. Since starting the year 8-1 with a 0.84 ERA, Zack Greinke is 2-6 with a 3.84 ERA. It was fun while it lasted, though.
30 Washington Nationals
Last Week: 30
The Nats have won 10 of 16 and have strung together three different winning streaks during that time. Adam Dunn has been especially hot, batting .380/.448/.780 with five home runs during that stretch. One more week like this and they may just get out of the cellar for the very first time this year. Now if they can just sign Stephen Strasburg within the next two weeks, they'll really be on to something.
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